KARACHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the director general of Pakistan Rangers Sindh and the provincial police officer to provide assistance to Pakistan Railways to retrieve its land from encroachers.
The three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed was hearing various cases at the Supreme Court’s Karachi registry. The other members of the bench were Justice Sajjad Ali Shah and Justice Qazi Mohammad Amin Ahmed.
The railways secretary and a divisional superintendent informed the bench that work on ML-I would be started soon and for that purpose they required land which was encroached upon.
They further submitted that whenever the railways launched an anti-encroachment operation, it was strongly resisted by the encroachers, and some personnel of the railway police also sustained injuries.
70pc work on KCR completed, officials say
The bench directed them to take all measures to clear railway lines and its encroached land with the help of Rangers and police personnel.
The railways officials further contended that 70 per cent work on the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) had been completed and it would be made completely functional as soon as possible.
A representative of the provincial government informed the bench that work order had been issued to the Frontier Works Organisation to build underpasses and flyovers on the KCR route.
The bench noted that its timeline for the KCR revival had not been met by the railways and the provincial government, and directed them to ensure that the same be completed without any further delay otherwise action would be taken against them.
Green Line project
The SC bench was informed that the Karachi Green Line bus project would be made operational by June and buses and other equipment were being imported.
The chief operating officer of the Sindh Infrastructure Development Company Limited, tasked to execute the project, informed the bench that the completion of the scheme was delayed due to Covid-19 and now it would be completed by June 2021.
The bench issued a directive that it be completed as further time would not be granted and sought a progress report within a month.
The CEO was of the view that the Green Line would operate from Surjani Town to Merewether Tower and accommodate around 300,000 passengers daily.
The bench ordered the immediate suspension of work on an under-construction building, Tejori Heights, in Gulshan-i-Iqbal near the abandoned Gilani railway station on the KCR and barred it from creating a third-party interest.
After hearing both sides, the bench while dictating an interim order, said that on the basis of documents, prima facie there was no right of Tejori Heights on the land in question and directed the commissioner of Karachi to take over the construction site till further order.
The lawyer for Pakistan Railways contended that the land belonged to the railways and an illegal construction was being made on the basis of forged documents. He maintained that a nazir of the Sindh High Court in his report also confirmed that the land belonged to railways.
Senior lawyer Mian Raza Rabbani was representing Tejori Heights and argued that they had filed objections on the nazir report and the matter was being heard by the SHC. He contended that his client had purchased the land and also had all the documents.
The chief justice expressed displeasure when Mr Rabbani insisted on arguing the matter further.
Hyatt Regency structure
The railways officials informed the bench that the land on which the abandoned Hyatt Regency hotel structure was built would be placed before the federal cabinet for its restoration to Pakistan Railways for use of its own operational purposes.
The bench directed them to come up with a report in this regard within a month.
In a previous hearing, the bench was informed that the abandoned building was in the possession of AKD Securities since the land was leased out in 2004 to it for 99 years by the Pakistan Railways to establish the National Commodity Exchange. While the counsel for AKD Securities had contended that the Privatisation Commission had leased the land after completing all formalities.
However, the railways secretary submitted that no land of railways could be leased out for more than five years.
Kidney Hill Park
The bench directed the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation commissioner to remove encroachments from the remaining 7.5 acres of land of Kidney Hill Park (Ahmed Ali Park) and submit a compliance report on Wednesday (today).
It was informed that the total area of the park was 62 acres and houses built on around 7.5 acres had not been demolished yet. The officials further submitted that on a directive of the bench a private school on the land had already been demolished.
The bench came down hard on the commissioner for not complying with its several orders for removal of encroachments and developing it as a model park. It directed him to also remove the debris of the demolished school till tomorrow.
The chief justice came down hard on the commissioner of Karachi, the director general of the Sindh Building Control Authority and other officials over encroachments on public spaces and unauthorised constructions in the city.
He remarked that the land of the KMC adjacent to Bagh Ibne Qasim was illegally allotted and Bahria Icon Tower was being built on it and an amenity plot near Mohatta Palace in Clifton was also encroached upon by raising a boundary wall.
He directed the officials concerned to take action in accordance with law and file reports. The chief justice also expressed resentment over the SBCA for allowing unauthorised constrictions and taking bribes. He further remarked that all those officials had fled after the SBCA DG contended that he was holding an inquiry against the officials allowing illegal constructions.
He said that the city had been handed over to private entities and they had encroached upon the city, adding that as per a news report, the local government minister was directing the SBCA to issue NOCs for constructions.
Meanwhile, the Civil Aviation Authority informed the bench that its amenity plot in Clifton was being developed as a park and would be inaugurated on Aug 14 while work on another such plot near the airport was also under way.
The bench directed the CAA officials to submit a progress report within a month.
Published in Dawn, December 30th, 2020